New CanoScan FS 2710 35mm And APS Scanner

Scans of 35mm color negatives made with the CanoScan FS 2710 provided an automatic interpretation to a positive image displayed in the ScanCraft preview, that was uncannily on target. Only minor adjustments, usually involving lightening or darkening, were required to obtain excellent scan quality from these color negatives even when the subject matter was quite atypical in color content.
Photos © 1999, David B. Brooks, All Rights Reserved

Canon's announcement of their new CanoScan FS 2710 35mm and APS film scanner covers every edge of a very broad target of potential users.

CanoScan FS 2710 Features. The physical specifications in all parameters for this new model are equal to, or extremely close to, most of the models in the top rung of 35mm scanners costing half to twice the price. The software provides ample support for the novice with effective and easy automation, as well as quite professional level manual color correction tools for the most demanding and experienced users.

· Resolution is an optical 2720dpi which is quite sufficient to make 12x18" prints with the largest format photo-realistic desktop ink jet printer.

· The scanning color depth is 12 bits per RGB channel, or 36 bits, equal to all of the best slide scanners.

· A 3.2 dynamic scanning range combined with an effective scan autoexposure adjustment assures making scans of E-6 chrome images free of shadow noise.

· Scan speed is moderately fast and combined with rapid image signal and auto adjustment processing provides some of the shortest overall scan times for excellent efficiency in use.

· The choice of settings between 24 bit and 36-bit output provides the Photoshop user the option of using professional level color correction at the full scan color depth.

· Full CanoCraft software support is included for PC Windows and Macintosh platforms with a stand-alone scan software application as well as a TWAIN driver for Windows and a Photoshop plug-in for the Macintosh. The software bundle that comes with the FS 2710 includes Adobe Photoshop 5.0LE, as well as NewSoft Mr. Photo for Windows and NewSoft Presto! PhotoAlbum.

· The CanoScan FS 2710 computer interface is SCSI 2, with an Adaptec compliant PCI SCSI interface card included.

The ScanCraft software for the Macintosh OS has a different design look, but contains the same essential tools and features needed to operate the FS 2710 scanner. A single button mouse click will automatically set histogram highlight and shadow points. Individual eyedropper highlight and shadow tool selection performs the same task manually and includes highlight and shadow color caste removal. This Photoshop plug-in will output 24 or 36-bit final scans directly to the Photoshop work space. In addition, it provides a perfect color match between the adjusted scan preview window and the Photoshop display of the final scan.

The CanoScan FS 2710 In Use. As should be expected these days the installation and setup of the CanoScan FS 2710 was truly plug-and-play, easy and quick. I set up and installed the ScanCraft software on a Windows workstation and an Apple G3 PowerMac. Both software interfaces are quite equal with just a few differences inherent to the distinctions between the two operating systems. With everything connected and installed I was ready to begin scanning.

This time, although I wanted to test the same range of media and subjects that would be representative of what many users might ask of the scanner, I chose a large set of images which had been archived on Photo CD back in 1995. Rescanning this film would provide a basis for comparison, and the bonus of seeing just what five years had brought in changes to the technology as well as digital image quality expectations. These film images included Koda-chrome and E-6 slides, color negatives, as well as silver-based black and white film negatives. And, fortunately the subjects of these images and their characteristics were also far ranging and diverse.

Scan Results From The Canon FS 2710 Film Scanner. I began my scanning with the CanoCraft software preferences set on 24-bit output mode and with the auto adjustment and Color Gear matching options turned on. The first few images I selected were Kodachrome slides mostly exposed in full sunlight. One of these was a Kodachrome 200 action shot of a wind surfer on the Columbia River. Like the other Kodachrome selection they all scanned to preview very close to how they looked on a light box. Then in the CanoCraft software I opened the Adjust window and found the histogram reflected a very accurate equalization of the tones utilizing the full gamut (this remained consistent when the file was checked in Photoshop later). Other than making slight adjustments to lighten or darken the image based on personal preference, the auto adjust and color matching functions of the CanoCraft software were right on target. When I checked the files in Photoshop that had been saved by CanoCraft from my scans, I only found I needed to tweak a couple of images using Color Balance to warm the image due to the fact the scene had been photographed at midday when the light color temperature was very high causing bluish shadows.

One crucial test of a slide scanner for me is for it to be able to scan a Kodachrome of a sunlit landscape with a full range of values to hold detail in both shadows and highlights. The reproduction of this fall high Colorado Rockies scene captured all the values in the slide to make an excellent reproduction of the scene.

While still using the stand-alone version of CanoCraft in 24-bit mode with auto adjust and color matching turned on, I switched to scanning some color negatives. Unlike some scan software CanoCraft does not use film terms for a selection of different brands of color negative films, just one setting. This approach, based apparently on an analysis of the negative image, worked better than any 35mm scanner I've tested so far. For all of the negatives I scanned with the 2710 the only significant major adjustments needed involved reducing or increasing the mid-tone brightness of the image. And, post-scan tweaking was also minor; similar to scans of the previous chromes involving minor adjustments more for compensations needed by the original photography than to correct for any shortcomings in the scanners processing.

The remainder of my scanning was equally divided between my Windows machine and my Mac G3, scanning from within Photoshop 5.0.2 with the CanoCraft software set for 36-bit output. I was particularly interested in seeing how much success I could achieve scanning images which had essentially been failed scans when recorded on the Photo CDs made in '95. This challenge was met so successfully that my scanning continued far beyond my need to evaluate the performance of the 2710. The experience was convincing proof that besides being an effective tool for the novice digital darkroom user, the Canon 2710 will also meet the demands of the most discriminating and experienced user.

It is rare an affordable scanner will output the full 36-bit color depth as the CanoScan FS 2710 does. There are at least two advantages. For instance, with difficult images to scan like a slightly overexposed high key subject, or the opposite, an underexposed low key subject, some of the compensation for the peculiar image attributes can be made with the scanner software's color correction tools. Then after the final scan Photoshop's more extensive color correction tools can be used to finish the correction to provide a precise digital interpretation of the image characteristics. Then when the image mode is switched to the standard 24-bit color depth, which is the usual output mode of many scanners, the image data is fully equalized and optimally utilizes the full gamut of the 24-bit colorspace. In other words, there is no loss of data that would detract from image reproduction quality, which often happens when post-scan color correction is applied to 24-bit scanner output.

Evaluation And Recommendation. Quite a few of the scans I made with the CanoScan FS 2710 were proof printed with an Epson Stylus Photo 1200 ink jet printer. Most were letter size prints, but some were super tabloid size with 12x18" images printed on the 13x19" paper. The reproduced image quality without exception was a better quality picture than I would have suspected possible looking at the original slide or at analog proofs of the color negatives. I would want to hope for this kind of performance with any scanner of course, and would feel it should be expected with a high-end professional scanner. That I could achieve such results with an affordable desktop consumer scanner like the Canon FS 2710 says we have come a long, long way since I was having my images scanned to Photo CDs in '95.

Is this new Canon 35mm scanner without fault? No, I believe they made a mistake putting the monitor gamma setting in the Adjust dialog window because if you use the reset for all of the tabs returning the values to zero/default, it also resets the monitor gamma. If you are using a gamma other than the default then you must reset it manually for every scan, a real pain.

Other than this minor annoyance, the CanoScan FS 2710 is an easy to use, efficient scanner that requires minimal effort to output accurately adjusted scans of exceptionally high quality. At the affordable street price of under $1000 it is a real bargain which should satisfy all but the pickiest, and most demanding with special requirements. I'm personally quite sensitive to scan image quality, and am very satisfied with the 2710 performance. So much so I hope Canon will accept a check in lieu of getting their scanner back.